Monday, March 10, 2014

Philippe's house

One of the coolest friends I've made since being at school is a guy named Philippe. He grew up in West Africa, which is cool enough, and in many ways he is till more African than he is American. What makes him so cool, you may ask? The only way I can describe it is through telling you about the other night when my friend Kyle and I went over to his house.

We took a cut through the woods and reached his house at around ten o'clock. Daniel, Philippe's older brother, sat on the porch with a book before him and an oil lamp burning brightly on a small table. Daniel looks so much like John Lenin that if he actually dressed in sixties clothes I'm sure he'd turn some heads. He has large round glasses, a thin pointed face and hay-colored hair that reaches down to his shoulders. Always he wears a rested and relaxed expression.

"Hello," he said. "I was just about to start up the hooka. Come sit down."

Philippe popped his head through the mobile home door and smiled. He stepped onto the porch and, with the added weight, the entire wooden structure moves precariously until we manage to sit on the rail seat. He's like his brother in many ways, but with shorter hair that curls all around his head; he is thinner, and has intense blue eyes, and he does not appear to be as relaxed as Daniel; he seems ready to spring into motion at any time.

Amanda, Daniel's wife, brings out the hooka and sets it on the table. She returns quickly inside to start making shahi and Daniel begins to read to us from All Creatures Great and Small, the book barely visible in the oil lamp. Kyle and I said no to the hooka for the sake of school rules, but Philippe sat cross-legged next to his brother, wreathed in the smoke, occasionally breaking the sound of Daniel's voice with the bubbling of the hooka as he pulls in another breath. It smells sweet, like honey.

Amanda comes out with the shahi tea. It's strong, with enough caffeine in it to compete with four cups of coffee, but it is bitter and very sweet. We pulled more blankets from inside the house and rested quietly in the deep night.

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